Excerpt From Newly Released Book: Division One by Stephanie Osborn
I recently had the honor of interviewing author Stephanie Osborn on the 9-5 Dropout Podcast. She was kind enough to share this exclusive look at her newly released novel. Enjoy!
Release dates: July 10, 2018 (ebook) and July 24, 2018 (print)
Author: Stephanie Osborn
Publisher: Chromosphere Press
Dr. Megan McAllister was already pretty unusual when she encountered the man in the black Suit. What Division One Agent Echo didn’t know, when he recruited her to the Agency, was that she was even more special.
But he’d find out, soon enough.
Stephanie Osborn, aka the Interstellar Woman of Mystery, former rocket scientist and author of acclaimed science fiction mysteries, goes back to the urban legend of the unique group of men and women who show up at UFO sightings, alien abductions, etc. and make the evidence...disappear...to craft her vision of the universe we don’t know about—the universe containing a galactic civilization and government, of which Earth is a provisional member. Her new series, Division One, chronicles this universe through the eyes of recruit Megan McAllister, aka Omega, and her experienced partner, Echo, as they handle everything from lost alien children to extraterrestrial assassination attempts and more.
Definition & Alignment is book 7 of the series.
When another enhanced human, Mark Wright, unexpectedly shows up at the Agency, the Alpha One partnership discovers that they still aren’t done with Slug’s machinations and levels of planning: Wright is there for Omega, and the NEXT generation of assassins will be GENETICALLY programmed to kill Echo! Thus begins a bizarre, inverted manhunt as the telepathically-brainwashed Wright chases Alpha One across the planet, using the pre-programmed mental link that Omega can’t fully block, to follow her anywhere Echo can take her...
An Excerpt from Division One book 7, Definition & Alignment:
Echo ended the call, then brought up the locator app on his phone, tying it into the beacon app. I only hope she remembered to actually set it, he thought as he waited to see if the app picked up anything. Not to mention hoping that these phones are way the hell more waterproof than their standard terrestrial analogs.
The locator app abruptly pinged and depicted a bright red, moving dot.
“THERE she is!” Echo exclaimed. “Shit, that rip current is moving fast! At least I know she’s a good swimmer from our training, but that’s some hella rough surf out there. Okay, take care of Wright first, or get Omega?” He spent precious seconds bringing up a split-screen, so he could see Wright on the left and Omega on the right. “Wright’s cut across in front of the house. Now why...oh. He’s gotta be headed for the rock stairs on the south end of the property, which he’d know about because MEG knows,” Echo realized. “That means his telepathic programming has enough sense not to want to confront me if he doesn’t have to. But if I don’t move fast, he might out-flank me. Maybe it’s good that I didn’t show Meg exactly where all my weapons caches are…”
At that very moment, Omega got another ducking beneath a huge wave. She emerged on the surface seconds later, gasping and panting, struggling to tread water, even as the powerful rip current carried her farther out.
“And that just answered my question,” Echo decided.
Echo ran to the corner of the bedroom and grabbed the high-tech air mattress he had used the night before, hitting the instant-deflate button and rolling it into a loose cylinder, then stuffing it into a warp pocket in his shorts. He headed into the den and scrabbled in an old chest in the corner, bringing out what looked like a lifeguard float...with several buttons that lifeguard floats shouldn’t have. He kicked off his flip-flops; one soared across the room and landed on the couch, but he paid it no attention. He ran to the back door and shoved his feet into his surf shoes, yanking them up and over his heels, then he was on the deck, overlooking the ocean.
“Damn,” he muttered, staring out. “No sign of her in all that wave action.”
So he lunged for the stairs to the beach, vaulting over the railing...and grabbing what he thought of as his fireman’s pole, a special emergency route down the twenty-five feet to the beach proper which was disguised as one of the support columns, that he’d installed for just such situations as this. Though I gotta admit, I didn’t think I would be racing anybody to get to the distressed swimmer, he thought, as he grabbed it with legs and arms and slid down it.
Within seconds, Echo was sprinting across the sand toward the surf.
* * *
As he neared the water’s edge, he pulled the force field remote, shut the field down entirely, then set a one-hour timer to re-establish it. The remote went into another warp pocket. Then he dragged the air mattress from the first warp pocket, hitting the auto-inflate button; a second later, it was inflated and in the water. Echo lunged forward, pushing it into the surf and past the breakers, then he clambered up onto it and dug in the pillow pocket, fishing out a control.
“All right,” he muttered, “adjust settings to...stiff base, hover mode, and...there.” Suddenly the entire thing was suspended several inches above the water. “That takes care of that. Now for the other.” He shoved the ‘lifeguard float’ into the pillow pocket along with the mattress control panel, hitting a hidden button on the ‘float.’
The ‘float’ turned into an antigrav propulsion system, and the air mattress hovered roughly a foot above the waves, sailing out, toward where he estimated his partner to be.
Behind him, Wright was already halfway down the stairs cut into the side of the bluff.
* * *
A stunned Omega watched, startled and bemused, as the water closed over her head with a huge splash.
What the hell just happened? she wondered, as dark gray-green water swirled above her. She kicked, and popped to the surface, gasping and choking before taking a deep breath. Then she began to tread water, and looked around to orient herself and figure out the quickest route back to land.
Uh-oh, she thought. I didn’t think I was THIS far out. Wait a minute... She paused and focused on a specific rock on the beach, watching as it grew farther away by the moment. Oh shit. I’m caught in a rip tide! she realized...just as another huge wave smacked her in the back of the head. She sputtered and coughed, then turned and tried to swim parallel to shore in an effort to get out of the rip current. Each time another massive wave approached—which was entirely too frequently—she dived under it, emerging on the back side.
I don’t expect Echo even knows anything is wrong, dammit to hell and back. I should have brought him with me after all, I guess. But then it might just be both of us that’s in this pickle. What I’ll do when I reach the force field dome, I have no idea, she considered. I really hope I don’t have to swim all the way to the edge of Echo’s property. Not in this sea. I’m not sure I have the endurance for that, Alpha Line training or no; this water’s turned COLD. And it’s way the hell too rough to try to float; I’d get slapped from here to Long Island and back.
Just then, she saw the force field glow a pale, washed-out yellow again, in the murky fog that had swept in with the higher waves...then it disappeared altogether.
Ooo! she thought. That might just mean Echo brought down the field! In which case he DOES know I’m in trouble. Thank You, God.
Omega tried to keep her head as far above water as she could, and surveyed the area, looking for Echo somewhere—on the beach, in the water, it didn’t matter; he would have help of some sort with him.
* * *
From time to time, water washed over the top of the air mattress as a wave crest managed to reach it. Echo held his cell phone in one hand, watching the locator app, and steered his makeshift craft with the other. Within moments, his position drew close to the red beacon location. But there was no sign of Omega.
“Oh shit,” he breathed. “She oughta be around her somewhere. Unless she’s already gone under, in which case I get to go pearl diving. Damn this fog! Meg?! MEG! ANSWER ME! It’s Echo! WHERE ARE YOU?”
Then he kept silent for long moments, straining his ears, listening over the crash of the surf.
“ACE!” came the cry at last. “Ackggl! Ptui! ACE! OVER HERE, ACE! OVER HERE!”
Echo dared to rise to a kneeling position on the hovering air mattress, risking a wave crest hitting him broadside, scanning in the direction of the cries, until he saw arms waving desperately between the swells. Relieved, he turned the mattress and drove it to her location, then pressed the <stabilize> control to ensure that the mattress would stay put and rigid while he grabbed Omega’s arms and dragged her onto the mattress.
“Baby?!” Echo said, as she lay on the mattress and coughed up water. “Are you okay?”
“I will be,” she murmured. “I don’t think I’ve ever been this waterlogged, though.”
“Any in the lungs?”
“No, not really. I’ll take something for it, just in case, when—”
“When we get back to Headquarters.”
“Oh-kaaay. What the hell happened?!”
“Wright is here. I’ll tell you more about that later. Evidently the two of you were about equidistant from me, so the damn household security computer flipped a coin and picked slap dead wrong.”
“That ‘soft’ setting on the force field is the biggest damn trampoline I ever saw,” Omega noted, as Echo turned their makeshift hovercraft and headed north, up the beach, away from Wright, who was now on the beach proper, and moving toward the water at speed. “I went from several yards away from the edge of the surf, to getting ducked way the hell out in the drink before I could blink.”
“Damn. It didn’t hurt you, did it?”
“Other than nearly getting me drowned, no. Surprised as hell, but unhurt.”
“All right, baby, hang on. I’m about to head back inland, and I’ll be taking us up.”
“I had no idea you could rig something like this with what you had—is this the air mattress you were SLEEPING on, last night?!”
“Yup. Keep your center of mass low, baby. Here we go.”
A few adjustments of the ‘float’ and the mattress, and the odd hovercraft lifted a couple of feet into the air, headed for the sand and rocks of the beach proper, and gradually continuing to gain altitude.
But as they crossed the surf onto land, Echo glanced to the left and spotted Wright, sprinting up the beach toward them.
“SHIT!” he exclaimed. “I didn’t know the dude could run like THAT! Hang on, Meg!”
Swiftly Echo adjusted the altitude controls, but the lifeguard ‘float’ was overloaded and Wright was running too fast; the improvised hovercraft was only about seven feet in the air when Wright reached it and grabbed for it as it shot past him. He caught the rear corner for a few seconds, and the stabilization mode overcompensated; the entire platform flipped, flinging Echo and Omega onto the beach. Echo hit a boulder sidelong and lay, stunned, as Omega picked herself up off the sand a few feet away.
* * *
As Omega turned to look, she saw Wright advancing, and Echo lying slumped against the boulder. Her partner’s eyes were open and he was stirring slightly, but he had obviously had the wind knocked out of him, and was not going to be in any condition to move—or do much of anything else, for that matter—for a few more moments. Oh shit, she thought. Well, at least I’m awake this time.
But to Omega’s surprise, Wright was not advancing on her, but on Echo. Oh boy. I wonder if he’s decided that Echo is competition...or generally a threat, Omega wondered. Which raises a whole ‘nother kettle of fish, but I don’t got time to think about it now!
Omega leaped between her partner and the man their old enemy had slated to be her mate, and dropped into a horse stance, fists coming up.
“Oh, no you don’t,” she growled. “Nobody gets Echo without a fight! Even if he’s out of it, I’m not!”
Wright reached out to try to shove her aside, but Omega blocked his arm, then threw a hard punch to his jaw. It connected, and they both grunted with the force of the blow.
Wright threw a somewhat awkward roundhouse, and the fight was on.
Books in the series:
Alpha & Omega
A Small Medium At Large
A Very UnCONventional Christmas
Tour de Force
Definition & Alignment
Division One book 1, Alpha & Omega, like all the books in this series, is available in print and ebook from your favorite booksellers, including Amazon and Barnes-Noble. http://bit.ly/DivOnebk1
Definition & Alignment: http://bit.ly/DivOnebk7